Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program

children’s well-being (Refer in the
Research Section to the article, Family Structure’s Impact on Children’s Development).
Session facilitators need to recognize that individuals who participate may have divergent
views of their family structure and its ability to support their children’s development.
Being respectful of varying views of couple relationships and their outcomes is critical to
gaining participants trust and participation.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Overview 4 2004
Married Couples
“Connecting Families” is designed to teach married couples no matter what their
background about the key aspects of a marriage relationship that can enhance its’ success.
Knowing this research based information opens the way to dialogue that can assist
couples in strengthening their marriage. The skills taught in the sessions will enhance
any relationship. Armed with information and skills couples can strengthen their
commitment to each other and their marriage.
Adolescents and Young Adults
“Connecting to My Future Family” is designed to teach teenagers and young adults about
what makes relationships successful and what leads to breakup. In an interactive mode,
the skills that assist in maintaining relationships are taught in the sessions. The facilitator
will need to be knowledgeable of the perceptions that young adults have about marriage.
Theoretical Framework of the Program
The “Connecting Families” curriculum has been developed using the research base of Dr.
John Gottman (Refer in the Research Section to the article, Marriage Success and
Divorce). Gottman’s work provides the model of relationship interaction that is the
foundation for the session’s relationship components. The communication skills in the
sessions are reflective of those Drs. Markman, Stanley and Bloomberg use in the
Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) (Refer in the Research
Section to the article, Communication Based Relationship Enhancement Program).
These basic skills are applied to interpersonal relationships in the program. Building on
these theoretical models, the “Connecting Families” sessions are designed to be
interactive and hands-on providing participants an opportunity to explore their own
relationship and skills. Overall the sessions are a starter to assist individuals to gain an
in-depth understanding how specific behaviors impact a relationship and how specific
skills can assist in renewing it.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Understanding the Couple Relationship, Session 1 5 2004
SESSION PREPARATION: To prepare to teach the session, make copies of Relationship Values
Sheet, Handout 1, and Expectations in Action, Handout 2. Prepare the Relationship Value Slips,
Session Materials 1, and Assumption Situations, Session Materials 2. Review the PowerPoint slides
and Session Outline.
Participants will:
1 Identify their personal values,
expectations and assumptions about
1 Recognize the importance that values,
expectations and assumptions play in
building positive relationships.
1 Become comfortable working within the
1 Adults react and make decisions based
upon their values, expectations and
1 Being knowledgeable and owning one’s
values, expectations and assumptions
increases one’s ability to effectively
maintain positive adult relationships.
1 One’s ability to develop satisfaction
within adult relationships is built upon
some jointly held values, expectations
and assumptions.
Connecting Families:
Understanding the
Couple Relationship
Session 1
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Understanding the Couple Relationship, Session 1 6 2004
Understanding the Marriage Challenge -
Session 1
1. Group warm up: Welcome participants
and give a brief overview of the session’s
purpose and activities. Explain that this
session is designed to help individuals to
learn more about their personal beliefs,
expectations and values that they have
for marriage. It will also assist in
understanding their partner’s perception
of marriage. The activities will help the
couple to identify roadblocks that may
create issues of conflict in their
What is Your Color?
¡ Introduce yourself and name your
favorite color.
¡ Like individual’s beliefs about
marriage no one’s color is
everyone’s favorite.
2. Using Slide 2, introduce the activity,
What is Your Color. Ask each group
member to introduce themselves using
their first name and to identify their
favorite color. List the colors on a large
sheet of paper and tabulate the number of
times each listed color was chosen.
Identify the range of colors that were
named and the color that was most
frequently named. Suggest to the group that the list of colors is like the perceptions that
different individuals have of marriage. As a group there were some colors that were
frequently listed as in our society there are expectations of marriage that many individuals
have, but there are also very personal beliefs and expectations that some individuals have.
Just like the list of colors, no one’s color or belief is held as being the one and only correct
color or belief. It is far more important to know you and your partner’s personal beliefs and
expectations for marriage than other’s. When a couple has an understanding of each
other’s beliefs, they can develop strategies to build a stronger relationship.
A Value
¡ Is extremely important to us
¡ Influences our decisions
¡ Guides our lives
¡ Is not easy to change
3. Using Slide 3, d efine what a value is. We
develop values as we grow up. They are
so much a part of us that we don’t even
think specifically about them. They are
guides that we take for granted and act
upon. It is important in a relationship to
understand what our personal values are
and what the values of our partner are.
Since conflict is a natural aspect of all relationships, when it occurs understanding each
others values helps each partner to recognize reasons for the individual’s stance and
behavior. To assist participants in identifying their most important relationship values,
conduct the Relationship Values Activity.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Understanding the Couple Relationship, Session 1 7 2004
Relationship Values Activity
Using the relationship values activity sheets, Handout 1, Relationship Values Sheet and
Session Materials 1, Relationship Values Slips, ask participants to rank their personal
relationship values. Number one value is the most important, number twelve is least.
After ranking their choices, ask participants to write their responses on the relationship
value sheet. If the participants’ partner is not attending the session, ask them to take the
slips and a blank activity sheet home so that their partner can fill in his/her responses.
In a group discussion, have individual members identify their top three values for their
relationship. As a group, identify the value that was most frequently identified. Identify
the value that was the least identified. Give examples of how these values come into play
in our relationships. We become most aware of our values when they are tested by
decisions that we have to make. If an individual highly valued trust, commitment and
financial security, and discovered that their spouse was gambling, how would they react?
With these values, would they be more affronted by the impact the individual’s behavior
would have on the relationship, or how addicted